A 15-year-old targeted by anti-gay slurs and threats online can sue the classmate who left them, a California appeals court has ruled, the SF Chronicle reports:
"A state appeals court says a 15-year-old boy whose Web site was flooded with anti-gay slurs and threats can sue a schoolmate who admitted posting a menacing message but described it as a joke. In a 2-1 ruling Monday, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said the violent language of the message – threatening to 'rip out your … heart and feed it to you' and to 'pound your head in with an ice pick' – conveyed a harmful intent that is not protected by the right of free speech.
The dissenting justice, Frances Rothschild, said no one who read all the messages posted on the Web site – in which youths tried to outdo the others in outrageous insults – would interpret any of them as a serious threat."
Background: "The plaintiff, identified only as D.C., set up a Web site in 2005 to promote an entertainment career after recording an album and starring in a film. Believing – wrongly, the court said – that he was gay, some fellow students at a Los Angeles high school posted comments that mocked him, feigned sexual interest or threatened violence."
D.C., at the suggestion of police, was taken out of school and the family moved to an unspecified location. The 16-year-old who made the threat claimed that his free speech rights were being threatened.
The case is being appealed to the state Supreme Court.